story fam

story fam

Friday, January 30, 2009

God is always at work around us

Yesterday I had one of those moments...the one where you look at your children and realize that through them you reap countless blessings. That moment where being a Mom is the most humbling job you can possibly have.

We walked into NPL for reading partners and had to drop off an overdue book. When we got up to the counter, Miss Pixie was off to the side with a young woman and they were crying. Michael walked those few steps towards the two women (before I could yank him back) and asked, "why are you crying?". Miss Pixie told us that this young woman was going to be leaving the library for 2 months to go to Florida with her family and that they were both sad. I nudged Mike and said introduce yourself..he did. The young woman introduced herself, Kim, and then Mike stepped forward and gave her a big hug and kiss. This prompted the hugging of Kim by the girls as well. As we walked away, Peris stopped on the stairs and said, "Mom she has a disability doesn't she? " And I said yes, she has downs syndrome. Peris then asked me several questions: will she ever marry, can she have a boyfriend, how old was she (38-only one year older than me) and when I answered no to those questions she looked right at me with this innocent smile and said"Mom it doesn't even matter because I saw that man by her-it's her Dad and you can tell he loves her. Mom, family is all we Mom and God." Yes, I openly wept in the Childrens Department.
This precious moment has caused much reflection for me. I was challenged this week my best pal Renee to start looking for God. She suggested that since God is love, where we see love we see God. I am here to tell you that yesterday afternoon I was blessed to be in the presence of God in the midst of those hugs and a single kiss given to a stranger by my son. I witnessed children, who are free of our adult constraints that hold us back when we see someone hurting, love another human being just because she was sad. It was a beautiful thing.
And for the record, Kim has a boyfriend and goes on double dates frequently.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Menu plan Monday for a week of madness

I am not sure how we have become so crazy busy. I am not an activites kind of Mom. I do not enjoy running around from place to place-I embrace this about myself. We have learned this year that with 5 kids we will be limiting the activities that we choose to commit to. So far we are doing basketball with all 5 kids, piano for 3 girls, reading partners for 4 kids, chess club for Michael, Peris is in circus and the school play, and we participate in Wednesday night church-I feel like I am leaving something out. Thank goodness we haven't been sucked into PCSL or an organized sports league where we endure weekend practices and games!!! This week I am teaching two nights and Derek is gone teaching one night as well so our meals are pretty routine again. I am falling back into a rut and would love some new suggestions!!!!!

Monday: Chicken nuggets and a veggie

Tuesday: Sandwich night

Wednesday: Chicken patties, cheesy potatos

Thursday: Baked cheese ziti, french bread, salad (can you tell this isn't a busy night?)

Friday: Burgers and fries

Saturday: Taco bar

Sunday: Chicken pot pie (didn't get this made last week)

If you have ANY easy, good recipes to share I am in need of some new meals to add to the rotation!!!! Check out for more menu plans and ideas.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fitting in with the family

Another snowy play day

Henry doing the snow dive
Fiona getting ready to cause some trouble

Mike and his best bud making "dog" angels in the snow

Derek and his best bud-we are trying to teach our retriever how to retrieve!

Ella playing house in the snow

Mike demanding to have his picture taken

Even in the freezing cold our girls head
right to the swings!
The temperatures finally were warm enough for us to head outside. The kids welcomed the fresh air and physical activity. It is so hard to be cooped up for days! The new thing to do is race down the slide-snow pants combined with the snow make for a fast trip down to the bottom-then when you hit the packed snow you slide...very cool! And NO I haven't tried!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I'm posting my menu a little early because I work tonight. Well after 3 days off due to bad weather and the weekend plus the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. day the kids have been home for 6 days. This morning we are dressed and groomed for church-I do believe that this is the first time in several days that we have practiced good personal hygiene!

My work schedule this week is busy-I work tonight, teach Tuesday, teach Wednesday and teach Friday. My menu reflects that in several fast and easy dinner plans that are easy to make (or easy for Derek to put together).

Monday- sloppy joes, tater tots

Tuesday- Gramma Choo Choo is coming over with dinner (last week was a bust due to weather)

Wednesday- Meatloaf, steamed veggies

Thursday- Chicken pot pie

Friday- Pizza

Saturday- Left overs/sandwich night

Sunday- Pork chops, steamed veggies

For more meal suggestions check out

Here is to a week of temperatures that reach the teens (spring, where are you??)!!!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

15 years ago...

15 years ago a boy and girl met on top of a bar and did something really silly. She gave him her phone number and he didn't call (right away). Events would play out and the boy wouldn't move to Omaha, NE (much to the girls delight). The boy and girl would foolishly move in together and a few years later decide to get married. The boy and girl would prove the naysayers wrong-they would stay together even though many thought they wouldn't last. In 1999 their first daughter would be born. In 2001 would come twins. In 2003 would come a fourth child and then in 2004 would come child number five. In 2004 even though the very core of their relationship would be rocked with the stress of having a disabled child, they would prevail and together they would remain strong. In 2005 their love would be tested again in the form of autism-yet nothing could overpower their love and they would find a way to hang on to one another. In 2006 a second diagnosis of autism would come for their one and only son-yet it would not overtake them. They would cling to one another being strong for each other when the waves of grief and pain would come-and believe me, they did.
Life would even out and a quiet night would come here and there. The romance will die people said. They just won't make it others mused.
But the boy and girl did make it-and while their vision of their future together took many unexpected twists and turns they did what they needed to do-gave each other space when it was needed and a shoulder to cry on. They gave each other hugs and laughter and joy and warmth.
And here it is 15 years later and they are still going strong-still proving (as if there are any doubters left out there) that no matter what they will always be together.
Love you D!
You will always be my hottie hot hottie....


Michael thought Henry needed some TLC yesterday. This dog is SO spoiled!!

Day 3 at home

So we are on day 3 of no school. The kids are doing remarkably well!! After only being back in the groove for a week (after holiday vacation) they really welcomed this time at home. I do think that they enjoy the downtime. Aside from a few moments that I won't go into, they have all been very nice to one another (bribing them with the Wii could contribute to this sense of brotherly/sisterly love).

The temperatures are still hovering around -25 degrees with the wind chill and even Henry looks at me like I'm crazy when I try to take him out! Today we are spending our morning upstairs-the kids are taking turns taking long baths-a real treat!!

I took my next Flybaby step and started to work on the weekly zone. This week is the bathroom and one other room. To start, the Flylady says that there is no cleaning-just decluttering for 15 minutes until the junk is gone. Yesterday I decluttered the "duck" bathroom and will then move on to the girls' bathroom. I need to clean out under the sink. Of course the bathroom downstairs is also in need of decluttering so that will be on the agenda as well. The great thing is that I can do anything for 15 minutes (the length of time spent decluttering in the zone area). I am also happy to report that both my desk and the counter by the fridge are still clean-hooray for me!! And I also cleaned out the hall closet that we repurposed into a pantry area. I purged old crayons, markers, coloring books that were full, old paints, dried up glue, crumpled up paper goods-they are all gone!!

After lunch we are going to have quiet time courtesy of the Disney Channel and maybe make a cake for dessert tonight??

It is nice to just be at home.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Childrens Classics

Just for fun I thought I would reminisce about my favorite childhood books for this months Children's Classics on 5 Minutes for Books.
Here are some authors and titles that came to mind:
Maud Heart Lovelace - Betsy, Tacy (series)
The Boxcar Children
Goodnight Moon
The Very Hungry Caterpillar-Eric Carle
Guess How Much I Love You?
There are so many.
What are your favorites?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Snow Day

Henry enjoys some time outside
Michael having fun

Emmy and Peris making a train

Emmy and Ella making a train

Fiona leads the way

Mike at the bottom of the slide

Peris pointing to her snow angel
Today we had our second official snow day for all of the kids. Luckily this time we got the automated calls early enough that we didn't wake them up and they slept in. We started out the morning coloring, watched Prince Caspian, and then headed outside after some wardrobe trouble. We lasted a whopping 20 minutes outdoors-it was freezing!! Now we have decided that a toasty fire and some Disney channel are just the thing to do.
I have a feeling that due to the wind chill and temperatures that are expected tomorrow the kids will be home again. Thankfully we have the Wii-Santa, you sure are awesome! Check out the video at the bottom of this post to see the kids outside-very cute!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Mommy Revolution

Today on the way to the vet, I happend to turn on Midday Connection (on Moody Bible Radio) and started to listen to these awesome women discussing "the perfect" Mom and how she doesn't really exist. There was so much more to this program, but it was extremely freeing to listen to a group of women talk about how as Moms we need to come together and support one another. We need to recognize that my view of motherhood isn't the same as yours and MOST importantly NEITHER of us are right.

Check out the above link for the Mommy Manifesto-some really awesome ideas about what Motherhood should look like-man we would all be so much happier if we took some of these suggestions to heart!

My favorite...motherhood is NOT a competitive sport!!! A close Moms we are required to feed, clothe, shelter, love and nurture our children. Everything else (carpooling, trips to the mall, attendance at EVERY activity) is "gravy". Ahhh....these women could so be my friends!!!

Good Morning Routine

The Bedtime routine went well last night. Derek even commented on how it is helpful to have a checklist to work from in the evening. It was so nice to wake up to a tidy kitchen and living room! It does set a peaceful tone for the morning.

I am moving on to the Good Morning Routine today. I revamped my routine as my original list was far too long. Sometimes detail can be a bit too much!! Here is my new routine:

Start coffee
Get dressed/brush teeth
Empty dishwasher
What is for dinner?
Load of laundry
Wipe out bathroom sinks
Make the bed
What is on the schedule for today?
Read my bible

This is a shorter, and more "do-able" list for my mornings. I can get this done and move on to bigger things. I also intend on doing a few 15 minute clean ups and some 27 fling boogies downstairs.

Yesterday I did a 15 minute tidy in Peris and Ella's room and it looks so much better!!! I then moved on to the Barbies while playing with Emmy. I disposed of 3 Walmart sacks full of broken dolls, ripped clothing, and misc. items that had been shoved into the drawers. Now we are down to about 20 dolls versus the 46 dolls we had prior to my purge. Little by little we will clean out the clutter-no need to rush.

Emmy and I enjoyed some snuggle time this morning reading books while we watched it snow. A little SNOWY DAY by Ezra Jack Keats hit the spot. She is now taking a bath and then it's my turn. I'm being paged.....

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Before Bed Routine

So my next step in my Fly journey is preparing my Before Bed Routine. I had one when I did this program years ago and need to reconfigure my routine as our lives have changed. Here is what I think my routine is going to look like:

Check calendar
Start a "to do" list
Load/run dishwasher
make coffee
Pick up living room/adjust slip covers
wipe off kitchen counters/table
lay out my outfit for tomorrow
check backpacks
make lunches
shine sink

Most of these things are done at or after dinner but I love being able to check things off!

Today I am also going to do a 15 minute blitz in Peris and Ella room to get some clutter under control-this has to be done while they are at school in order to avoid any freaking out. I am happy to report that my counter by the fridge is still clear and my desk is still in order-hooray!!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Monday Menu Plan

We had a really fun day today. Tim rented out the ice rink for an hour and we went and had fun-the best part?? NO trips to the ER!! For a group of non-athletic people, we all did a great job!!

Last week I didn't follow my menu as closely as I usually do. I was off a day due to the week prior and then one night we ordered pizza. Tonight I am going to back track so I will still be left with two dinners that I didn't use.

This week takes us back to our busy school schedule. Monday we start basketball through the Autism Society, Tuesday Derek starts teaching his class, Wednesday I teach, Thursday starts our dog training class and then it is the weekend. I decided to do some very easy meals this week-they aren't very exciting but they are efficient.

Monday- Chicken nuggets

Tuesday- Gramma Choo Choo is coming over and bringing dinner

Wednesday- Spaghetti and meatballs, salad, french bread

Thursday- Crock pot chicken and noodles, veggies, crescent rolls

Friday- Bagel pizzas

Saturday- Breakfast night

Sunday- Crockpot chilli and grilled cheese (this is left over from last weeks menu)

For more really good menu ideas check out are some awesome moms out there working really hard to create delicious dinners for their families!!! I have gotten some really good ideas from browsing blogs.

Hope it is a good week!

Ice Skating with Uncle Tim

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Babystep 3-The Hot Spot

I am actually jumping ahead a bit since I have already used this system to clean and organize. Today I will be hitting a hot spot in our house-the hot spot is that place where clutter prevails. Yesterday I hit my 2 primo hot spots-the counter by the refridgerator (and I have threatened anyone who dares to leave something there) and my desk (yikes). Today we are going to hit the shoe area in our downstairs. If you can imagine the amount of shoes that a family of 7 has and then imagine them strewn all over our lower level you can get a good idea as to why this is a hot spot-even big people forget how to put their shoes AWAY!!

We will also be doing a 27 fling boogie which is so easy. You take a garbage bag and QUICKLY go through the house and pick up 27 items that go into the garbage bag and DON'T come out. The garbage bag is immediately sealed and placed into the outdoor garbage can. Very effective!!! We will be doing this in all of the kids' bedrooms-watch out I come (Ella is our resident collector of stuff. She is not yet the packrat that her twin is but close!).

Then we will be doing a shortened version of the home blessing. The home blessing consists of regular household chores that the flylady devotes one hour to per week. Things on her list are : vaccuum, change sheets, dust, mop, etc. Today we will be changing our sheets, vaccuuming bedrooms-kids will be doing their own, and I will run scooba Steve in the kitchen.

I don't like to take up our Saturday doing chores, but if we do this together it shouldn't take more than one hour and we will all feel better.

Uncle Tim and Aunt Christine are coming over tonight for dinner and some Wii and after our hard work it will be a well deserved treat!!!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Baby step two-tie your shoes

So my Flylady tip for today is : Tie your shoes. The Flylady says to get up and first thing in the morning get dressed, do your hair and makeup, and put on a pair of tie shoes. So I failed step two already. I did put on my fuzzy crocs but as for the hair and makeup thing-I don't think so!! My sink is still shiny and I will eventually get dressed-good enough I'd say:)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Babystep one-Shiny Sink

I accomplished baby fly step one: I have a shiny kitchen sink. I also did at 10 minute tidy and cleaned out and organized my desk-it looks so much better!!! I am going to try and devise a system for storing the select few school papers that I have kept for the kids. I am going to continue on today doing laundry and maybe running scooba steve on the kitchen floor. I am thrilled that today is a very light commitment day for us!! Emmy has school at noon and then I am free until pick up at 2:40. I do have to run to Walmart for hoagie rolls, a space heater, and something else that has escaped my brain-but there aren't ANY night time activities!!! Hooray!!

This week the manicotti was delicious and went overy okay-it was very easy. I actually made it in the afternoon and then popped it in the oven after I picked the kids up. Last nights chicken and rice bake was met with a bit of hesitation-the rice wasn't a big hit. Tonight we're having Italien Beef which isn't ever a hit with the kids but if they are hungry enough they'll eat.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hello Flylady! Step one-shine your sink!

I have made a decision-I am returning to the Flylady way of cleaning our house. It's a new year and I have some new goals to attain-like decluttering and reorganizing this house!!! A few years ago I found this web site: and it really did change the look of our home. There are really easy baby steps to get you headed in the direction of a clean, organized, and peaceful home. So tomorrow morning I am taking step number one: shine your sink. I am going to ease my way back into the program-the online "get started" program takes 31 days to complete but it is worth making it a routine. So here I go.....flying towards a cleaner more organized space for our family!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Our 2009 Bucket List

As we kick off the new year (3 of the kids are back to school today) we made a list of things that we wanted to do during 2009 as a family. We'll try to do something each month to make our family time special. I have learned that being intentional makes for some awesome memories!!

1. What is something you would like to do that is FREE?- go to the pool (we get a pass), go camping (yikes), have a friend over, go to the museum, walk on the trail, go sledding.

2. What is something you would like to do that requires money?-go to the zoo, get a Wii game, go see a movie at the Galaxy theatre (this costs us a small fortune), get Dilly Bars from DQ, spend a weekend with Derek-ALONE.

3. If you could go out for dinner where would you go?- Steak and Shake (Ella), Chili's (Michael), Cracker Barrel (Peris), McDonalds (Fiona), "The Piggy Place"-Famous Dave's (Emmy).

We are also enrolling Henry in the PAWS (Pets Are Walking Saints) program through Wesley United Methodist church. He will go through 5 weeks of training to earn his Good Citizen Award and if he passes he will be eligible to be taken to nursing homes or other places in the community for others to enjoy him. We are doing this as a family and are really excited.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

First Menu Plan Monday of 2009

Well our New Year is off to a good start. Emmy is almost over her sickness, my throat feels somewhat better, school starts tomorrow for the girls and then Michael goes back on Tuesday. We have really enjoyed a break from homework and school commitments-well at least the van driver has!! Not spending a huge block of time in my van has been a luxury!!
This past week was a bit crazy so the menu wasn't adhered to-we didn't have smoked sausage so that will carry over to this week and we also didn't have breakfast night due to PaPa and Grandma Pat treating us to Monicals Pizza-yummo!!
So here is our Menu for this first week of January:
Monday: Smoked Sausage and hashbrowns
Tuesday: Manicotti, bread, salad
Wednesday: One pan chicken bake with rice
Thursday: Italien beef sandwiches
Friday: Tacos
Saturday: Bagel pizzas
Sunday: Crockpot chili and grilled cheese
For more great recipes check out

Thursday, January 1, 2009

It's Official

Okay, it's official. I'm obsessed with the dog. Emmy put this New Year's hat on him and it was just too cute not to share!!!!!

Hey, I've wanted a dog for a VERY long time!!!!

Henry, meet Rusty

Henry, Rusty, and Uncle Tim (the unofficial dog whisperer)
Rusty minds a little bit better...well, a lot better!

Henry officially was introduced to his cousin Rusty at our house last night. Both boys enjoyed the New Years festivities with the rest of us. Thankfully they interacted beautifully!! We are excited as Rusty is very special to us! We didn't realize how gi-normous Henry was until we saw him standing next to Rusty-wow he is big!!!

Happy New Year!

Aunt Christine and Michael watching Disney's Countdown to midnight

The girls watching Disney (minus Emmy who went to bed at 5:30pm-she is now sick)

Good riddance to 2008!! I don't know about you, but I am thrilled to have a fresh start with 2009!!! 2008 was a very rough year for our family! With prolonged illness, job changes, school schedules, etc. it was difficult to juggle the day to day activities that our family was faced with. Even though we did face many difficult circumstances, God provided us with so many blessings to report: Emmy was accepted into Metcalf's preschool (yes it is a typical setting where she is not typecast as the special needs little girl-hooray! She has gotten a fresh start and is doing fantastic), Peris has spread her wings and has chosen to become involved in activities at school, Michaels IEP has been reduced to consultation (he will be returning to his home school, Hoose, next year), Ella has "the best teacher ever" for first grade (she is what ALL teachers should strive to emulate!!), Fiona also has "awesome Mrs. Nevius and Ms. Hatch-they have cool fish Mom!"(also two of the finest women I have EVER met!). Derek was blessed with a promotion at ISU and also received a second appointment to teach COMM 110 at ISU again in the Spring. He is such a good teacher-those kids are really fortunate to have such a caring teacher!! As for me, I have to say that I have a new appreciation for being healthy. Being ill for many months has given me a renewed appreciation for the little things: cooking a meal, doing the laundry, taking care of my kids, sleep, laughter, and shopping at Walmart. 2009 holds so much promise for our family!! I do think this is going to be our year!!

Happy New Year!

Announcing...MRR second book pick

Announcing the second pick for Moms Rocking Readers.....

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

We threw out different choices but decided that we wanted to continue on with the series as it is awesome!!! If you are interested in joining us pick up a copy and let me know-I'll update our progress as we do read pretty slowly. I can promise that the second book is even better than the first-you won't be disappointed!!!!